Roasted Pumpkin Seeds..a nutritional powerhouse!

I had decided a few days ago that writing about pumpkin seeds on Halloween was just too predictable.  Then I decided to try a different method this year and we are all enjoying them so much that I decided I would go ahead and share.

Every year I gather up the seeds, rinse them of all the mushy pumpkin, pick off whatever is still stuck, and then lay them out to dry for a few hours before roasting them. Quite a process.  This year I decided to try a different method I had read about. No rinsing! Just separate, pull off the bigger pieces of mush, toss in a bowl with a little olive oil and your favorite spices, spread them out on a cookie sheet lined with foil, and bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes.  The theory here is that the pumpkin goop adds nutrition and flavor. I believe they are on to something. So much easier! And the best part… that I had them out of the oven for us to munch on even before we were done carving the pumpkins!  I made half with cinnamon, sugar, and sea salt, which the boys loved. The other half I tossed with a spice blend for roasted veggies (The Gourmet Collection). Rich and I love this blend on everything and it didn’t disappoint on the pumpkin seeds. YUM!

In case you need any extra motivation to toast up those seeds, here is the down-low on the nutrition…

A good source of protein, zinc, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and manganese..just to name a few.  They have anti-inflamatory benefits to help arthritis, phytosterols to help protect against cancer and high cholesterol, AND, L-tryptophan, a natural ant-depressant!  I could go on, but WOW, that is a lot of good from one little seed!

Have a safe Halloween! Melissa


Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa Recipe

It’s only a few days away from Scott’s Iron Man Competition (his 2nd one this year).  This week we have been eating easily digestible, nutrient dense, high energy foods.  I went to the Western Wake Farmers Market on Saturday and stocked up on all organic produce and grass-fed organic chicken and stew beef for the week.  I also bought grass-fed diary from Whole Foods.  I tried to keep our food squeaky clean in preparation for his big race and I think it was a success.  If only I did this every week!

It is squash season and they are in abundance everywhere and in so many varieties.  The easiest way of eating fresh is to eat foods that are in season.  It can also give you a feeling of being in balance with nature, grounded and focused.  I combined that with the food of the Incan Warriors, quinoa, to give my man the strength and endurance he needs for his Iron Man this weekend. He is my warrior 🙂

Quinoa Stuffed Squash

3 Organic Acorn Squash

1 Cup  Organic Quinoa

2 Cups Organic Chicken Stock

2 Cups Organic Spinach (Cooked)

3 Organic Roma Tomatoes (Chopped)

1/2 Can Organic Black Beans (Drained and Rinsed)

A pinch of Nutmeg and a Pinch of Salt

Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds.  Trim the bottoms of the squash to create a flat surface to balance them on the rimmed cookie sheet while baking. Lightly brush the inside and outer rim of the squash with olive oil. Place in oven at 400 degrees for about 40 min.

Rinse quinoa and cook in the chicken stock until tender, about 20 minutes.

Wilt the spinach in either a sauce pan or in the microwave and then mix together with roma tomatoes (raw), black beans, quinoa, nutmeg and salt.

Once squash is ready, spoon in the stuffing and return it to the oven for about 5 more minutes.

The super good stuff:
Quinoa is a perfect protein containing all essential Amino Acids

Acorn Squash is loaded with fiber, vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese 

Spinach is an excellent source of A,K,Folate and Potassium

Health and Happiness – Andrea


Getting the kids involved…

So on our last trip to the farmers market I told the kids to pick out a new veggie they’d like to try. Charlie chose these beautiful pink-eye purple hull peas.  I believe these are harder to find in other parts of the country, but they are a fall farmers market staple here in North Carolina. I think we shelled some black-eyed peas about a year ago and they weren’t a big hit with the kids but I decided to sound thrilled with his choice and just go with it. The kids really enjoyed the shelling, just gently break them open along the seam and they tumble right out into the bowl.  Here’s what’s next…

Place peas in pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water

Bring to a boil, lower heat, and cover with lid

Allow to simmer for 45-60 minutes. 

Drain, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

A couple of notes; It takes a lot of peas in the shell to make enough for a family of  5!  The more peas in the pot, the longer the cooking time.  They may take a while to cook but it is not necessary to stand over them at the stove.  Set a timer for 15 minutes and check to make sure there is enough water in the pot, add more if needed.

The kids had fun fixing these and anytime they are involved in the choosing and the cooking they are much more willing to try new things. I thought these were fantastic and ate the leftover peas for lunch the next day. Rich loved them (shocking, I know:) and the kids ate them. Well, truthfully, 2 kids ate more than the other. Mae is my picky eater and I would have been shocked if she had eaten them with a smile on her face.  l just continue to put new foods in front of her and the rule is, “everyone tries everything on the table!”  I read somewhere that if you make kids try new foods six times they will eventually eat it without a fight. I’ll get back to you on that theory!

These would also be great over quinoa and veggies.

Peace and greens, Melissa

A better cup a joe…

After years of loving my drive-thru Dunkin Donuts Hazlenut coffee …2 creams, 1 sugar, thank you very much, I finally made a change.  I know both Andrea and I have referred to doing Dr. Alejandro Junger’s cleanse almost 2 years ago.  No cream or sugar allowed for 21 days.  No caffeine either for that matter.  Due to the cleanse I switched to unsweetened vanilla almond milk and agave syrup in my decaf coffee and now it is my morning drink of choice. I really love it and it is so much better for you.  Agave syrup has been used for centuries (starting with the Aztecs!) for its medicinal purposes but its glycemic index is really what all the buzz is about.  The carbohydrate in agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which provides sweetness without the unpleasant “sugar rush” and unhealthful blood sugar spike caused by many other sugars.  And with the low calorie, natural sweetness from the vanilla almond milk, they are an awesome combination.  I admit it may take a few mornings to get used to it but I urge you to try it for one week…you will make the switch too!

Trader Joes has the best price I’ve found for agave syrup, find it near the sugar.  Keep an eye out for it at your local TJMaxx as well. They often have the Madhava brand at a great discount.  I’ve found it there in hazlenut and maple flavor as well.  I switched my kids from maple syrup to maple agave syrup on their pancakes and they don’t even know it.  Much better than the fake corn syrup variety and cheaper than pure maple syrup!

Peace and greens, Melissa

It can be easy eating green!

I love Sam’s Club for many reasons but the thing I love the most is their large tubs of Taylor Farms Organic Spinach.  It is a one pound tub for $3.89.  The tub is full of pre-washed organic baby spinach leaves that I can throw in a smoothie or a hand full in a salad.  If I cook the whole tub at once it is the perfect amount to feed my family of 5 as a side dish.  I just love the convenience of the packaging with the replaceable lid and you can count on it staying fresher longer than the spinach you get pre-washed in a bag.  I love the price too!  It costs half as much at Sam’s Club than it does at my local grocery store.  It is one of my favorite time-saving and money-saving refrigerator staples in my effort to eat more greens.

Health and Happiness-Andrea